U.S. Treasury Department: more ass-ugly currency, please.

Today in a handful of change I received, for the first time, one of the new U.S. nickels with the redesigned Jefferson obverse (I hesitate to call it a face). I am therefore inspired to congratulate the United States Mint on its ongoing and highly successful currency uglification program.

I had been somewhat disappointed with the updated paper bill designs, which until recently seemed largely content with their Monopoly-evocative detailing and off-center, slightly more bloated depictions of the Founding Fathers. The higher denominations have since begun to show more promise with the addition of sickly translucent color washes and other comically intrusive anticounterfeiting measures.

The program has obviously been accumulating valuable data through their experimental State Quarter program, which allows them to introduce various combinations and permutations of ugliness and bad taste, and systematically track the effects thereof. The 2005 nickel is the first clear beneficiary of the fruits of this approach.

I have lost count of the times that I’ve looked at American currency and thought to myself, “Why this obsession with profile and three-quarter views? Wouldn’t these depictions appear much more interesting and dignified when viewed at a ridiculously close-up nine-sixteenths angle?” At last we have a coin that answers this question. Jefferson’s left eyelash seems to beckon playfully at the viewer, inviting them to ask, “What the hell is that? Is there a bug sitting on the bridge of his nose?”

The 2005 nickel eschews tiresome classical standards of portrature in favor of a more refreshingly populist approach, the “partially decapitated” depiction so familiar to amateur photographers everywhere. This coin suggests that Jefferson is as much a part of the American family as anyone who has ever had the top of their head accidentally cropped out of a wedding picture. It’s gratifying to note that the Treasury is sensitive to the needs of Americans who might find the sight of Jefferson’s large brain offensive.

I note also that, whereas the motto “In God We Trust” and the word “Liberty” were given comparable positioning and identical type in the earlier Jefferson nickels, in the 2005 coin the God motto retains the bold Roman lettering and is right up at the top, while “Liberty” is rendered in barely legible script* near the bottom. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, however.

The reverse of the nickel has a bison on it. The bison is male. I have no strong opinion on this matter one way or the other.

In summary, the 2005 nickel is a bright beacon of hope that United States currency will continue to become even uglier and less dignified as the new century matures. But we must not allow ourselves to become complacent. Other nations will not sit idly by and cede the title of Ugliest Currency to America without a struggle. No doubt other countries are even now designing money that depicts their heads of state even less favorably, and featuring animals with even bigger wangs.

The Treasury Department has done a fine job so far, but they need our continued support in this arena of endeavor. There are whole color schemes from the 1970’s that have never been considered for use on paper money! The new one-dollar bill could have a full-face portrait of George Washington lit from beneath like Nosferatu. The penny could have a hyperrealistic closeup of Lincoln that only depicts one wart and a few beard hairs. I would encourage all Americans to consider how they can help to make our nation’s currency uglier.

*Supposedly it’s Jefferson’s own handwriting. I somehow doubt he routinely wrote in millimeter-high script though.

applause, hilarity

We’ve recently gotten a currency update too, and it’s more or less all right with me; I do like the new bill designs. I have to ask, though – what is it with the increasing bloat thing? Much as you complain about, up here too, Laurier, Macdonald, and Her Maj all look like they’ve gained at least ten kilo since the last issue.

I think the nickle is cool.

Sort of like your mint on drugs.

Sorry, regardless of the portraits, the new Canadian bills are works of art. Just gorgeous, I tell you.

When the new American $20 bill came out, a friend and I decided that we needed to have a show, “Queer Eye for the Treasury Guy”.

Tangential, but I also think we need a “Queer Eye for the FBI”

Darnit, gave the wrong impression, there. :smack:

I’m straight. I would be the producer, not one of the stylists. Just so we’re clear.

I thought we already had that. Isn’t the hequaters named after him?

Sure, hon. If that makes you feel better, you go right ahead and believe that if you want. :wink:

("When you compare the old Andrew Jackson and the new Andrew Jackson, the only thing you can conclude is that somewhere in the treasury department, there is a gay man. ‘Oh my god, we need to build product! Make the picture bigger, move it off to the side – it’ll be very feng shui.’ " - Kate Clinton)

Terrifel, that is a fucking hilarious OP.

And the nickel is ugly. The $20s, though, are so much worse.

My gut has been busted. Thanks a lot. :smiley:

My theory is that we have ugly money so that if anyone makes fun of it, we get to call them freedom hating terrorists, kick their ass, and take their money.

I, for one, think the new nickels are gorgeous.

Oh, and wô là with the bison! You stick with the architecture and we’ll keep the large mammals, mmmmkay?

I’ve always found US currency quite beautiful and classic. It would be a shame if they messed with it too much.

Jefferson looks a lot like Data in that picture.


And that bison schlong is priceless. They put an anotomically correct bull elephant statue in an out of the way clump of trees in the sculpture garden at the UN, but Tatanka’s unit is hanging out on a pretty common denomination for all to see.

Fuckin’ great OP.

US coinage jumped the shark with the 1909 Lincoln penny. It’s been such a big part of our lives that it just seems natural now, but it’s fucking ugly coin. Moreover, it replaced the Indian head penny, one of the coolest coin designs of all time.

Turn the clock back to 1900, and you have a full set of classy coins that would look just as good and appropriate in 2005 as they did back then.

I agree that the new nickel is absolutely execrable. I point out anything the OP hasn’t already nailed.

I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one to think that the “State quarters” concept was ugly, childish, a waste of money, and utterly inappropriate. Just fuckin’ ridiculous.

You are so right. I’d be happy to throw myself on this grenade for you. Please place all your ugly US Currencyin a large envelope, and mail it off to me. I will shoulder the burden. :frowning:

No, don’t thank me.

:stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

Your new nickel looks quite cool to me. Dunno. Are Americans expecting the classic profile shot every time on your coins or something?

The anatomically-correct bison, though, I can definitely see attracting more than a few comments in the playground.

And one day he cried out, “Oh my God, Andy, you would look so good in peach!”

Someone like Worth 1000 ought to hold a contest to redesign US bank notes and coins.

Looking at the face of the nickel, I kept expecting Jefferson to turn around and shout “Back off, already!”

Exactly what was wrong with the old design? Were people just that desperate to get into Jefferson’s personal space?

An interesting point. The reverses of all our coins $0,25 and under, except for various special issues, have remained constant since the 1930s, and the images have held up very well.